Day 1: The Longest Day

Early on the longest day, canoe tripping

Date: Thursday, August 6, 2015

Weather: 22 degrees Celsius, 40 km/hr wind gusts

Distance: ~ 14 kms including 3 short portages (Matagamasi Lake to Donald Lake via Gold and Colin Scott Lakes)

After a hearty breakfast at the Sportsman’s Lodge we loaded our gear into the truck and headed out to our put-in. We had our longest day ahead of us.


We unloaded the lodge’s Scott Prospector canoes from the trailer and gear from the truck. Jen and I ran through a brief lesson with the women on shore on how to load the canoes, how to get in and out of them (i.e. NOT on shore), the safety gear included, and a few key paddling strokes. Then we set out into the sunshine.


As we approached the widest part of Matagamasi Lake the headwinds picked up and our progress slowed. We took our time, stopping often for snacks and water. We admired an ancient pictograph along the rock wall of McCarthy Bay. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch in a mossy grove of old growth spruce before paddling off towards our first portage.


The portage from Matagamasi to Gold could have been challenging to find the first time, but Jen who had led this trip last year, easily matched up the features of the far shore with the features on our maps. The ten of us worked together to move gear and canoes over to Gold Lake’s shore. One of our clients and I each solo-carried our canoes for the first time. Big win for both of us! After a few runs over the 350m trail, we loaded everything back into the canoes and made haste for the next portage as it was getting late in the day.


A short paddle later and we climbed out of our canoes again to portage to Colin Scott Lake. Once again all ten women chipped in to move packs, barrels, and canoes across the 200m trail. As we set out towards our last portage, we noticed how deep blue the water in this area had gotten. Another short paddle later and the women were proud of themselves for spotting the portage trail. We hauled everything up and over the next 200m trail onto the shores of Donald Lake, our home for the next 36 hours.


It was quite close to dinner time now and we needed to find a campsite. The first set of islands seemed occupied by a man wearing only a Speedo. The favored site on the eastern shore was also occupied as was the site on the second set of islands.  We finally found one on the western shore just past the second set of islands. Once again women made quick work of unloading boats and getting them up on shore.


I helped women find tent pads and get their tents set up (and learned a few things about MSR tents along the way) while Jen set up the camp kitchen and started dinner.


The mosquitoes were fierce and women were tired from an extremely long day so we decided to forgo a campfire in favor of reading in our tents and getting a good night’s sleep. With the next day slated as a base camp day, we set no morning schedule and wished everyone sweet dreams.


For the rest of the trip report, click here.

Published by Kate Monahan

Travel happy. Outdoors professional. Writer. Photographer. Educator.

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